By 

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Assemblyman Michael Reilly (R-South Shore) wants to see Staten Island separate from the Big Apple and become part of upstate New York.

Reilly told the Advance he would like Staten Island to become part of the upstate region via Divide NY, a plan introduced last year by Assemblyman David DiPietro (R-East Aurora). The plan seeks to divide the state into three regions: New York City; New Amsterdam, all of upstate New York, and Montauk, which would include Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Rockland counties.

“I had a conversation with Assemblyman DiPietro, and I think Staten Island would better align with the New Amsterdam region as opposed to remaining part of New York City,” said Reilly.

“The New Amsterdam region would allow for some economic development. The government model from upstate would better align with the values of Staten Island,” he added.

Reilly said that since Staten Island lacks large-scale public transportation the rest of New York City has, the borough has more in common with the upstate region.

“This is just the exploratory phase. There is a lot we’d have to evaluate to see if this would actually work for us,” he said. “We have to make sure it’s beneficial for us to leave New York City.”

STATEN ISLAND SECESSION MOVEMENT

Reilly’s proposal comes on the heels of a movement spurred by  Councilman Joseph Borelli (R-South Shore) for Staten Island to secede from New York City.

Nearly 30 years after Staten Island leaders fought exhaustively to secede from New York City, Borelli plans to revive that fight again.

In a borough that makes up just 6% of New York City’s population with only three City Council representatives on the 51-member legislative body to serve as a check on the mayor, who controls virtually all city services, Borelli says that in reality, Staten Island leaders have little to no power to effectively deliver city services to the borough.

He wants to change that system.

“The city is 8.5 million people, we have a population the size of Austria, we have a budget the size of Ireland, we have more police officers in uniform then there are people in the entire Royal Navy … all of this stuff is governed by one human,” said Borelli to the Advance last month. “That is atypical in the United States of America.”

Read the article on the Staten Island Advance website at https://www.silive.com/news/2019/12/assemblyman-reilly-staten-island-should-be-part-of-upstate.html

Staten Island is so desperate to leave New York City that it may join upstate.

Republican Assemblyman Michael Reilly is sick of New York City’s high taxes and liberal policies and is hoping the northernmost reaches of the Empire State would annex Staten Island as part of an existing proposal to divide the state into three regions.

The far-fetched plan sponsored by Assemblyman David DiPietro (R-East Aurora), dubbed Divide NY, would split the state into three regions: New York City; “Montauk,” containing Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Rockland counties; and “New Amsterdam” for all of upstate.

Reilly would like to amend the bill to get the Island out of the Big Apple.

“In my personal view, I’m leaning toward going up to New Amsterdam,” he told The Post. “I don’t think we would align with the Montauk region.”

The Post previously reported that DiPietro’s plan that would create independent regions, each with their own governor and legislature, running their own schools and setting taxes.

This comes on the heels of a Staten Island secession proposal by Republican Councilman Joe Borelli and about 30 years after 65 percent of red borough residents actually voted to leave NYC in a referendum. The movement went dormant when then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver prevented it from moving forward without a City Council “home rule message.”

Reilly’s Staten Island colleague, Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, said she supports exploring secession, but doesn’t want to join upstate.

“They don’t have the economy to support themselves … because of policies put in place by the Democratic-controlled legislature,” she said.

Sam Pirozzolo, a Republican running for City Council, is surveying his fellow Staten Islanders to gauge secession support and wants people to seriously consider joining upstate.

The Republican-backed Divide NY bill is likely to be killed in the Democrat-controlled state legislature.

Read the article online at https://nypost.com/2019/12/07/staten-island-pols-are-sick-of-liberal-nyc-and-want-to-join-upstate/

By  | Posted Nov 16, 2019

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Is Staten Island one step closer to floating away from New York? Amid controversial talks from South Shore Councilman Joe Borelli (R) reviving a decades-old fight for our forgotten borough to secede from the rest of the city, a new website has come to life asking Staten Islanders to have their voice heard. Sam Pirozzolo, the Staten Islander infamous for erecting a 16-foot-tall wooden Trump “T” and current City Council hopeful, is behind the aforementioned website  “Stexit: Movement for the secession of Staten Island from New York City.”

Pirozzolo, 56, of Castleton Corners, says he decided to create the website so that local residents could “weigh in on a very important issue.”

“I think everyone on Staten Island should be a part of this decision together,” he told the Advance. “Let’s not forget, many Staten Islanders wanted this to happen years ago.”

In 1993,65% of Staten Islanders voted in favor of leaving New York City and creating their own independent city. The city never held a secession vote and the measure for Staten Island to secede died in committee.Councilman Borelli

Forgotten Borough No More

Borelli plans to introduce two pieces of legislation by next month.

Pirozzolo says that this time around, he wants to hear from residents who voted back then and ask if anything has gotten better since.

“Were you on Staten Island when that vote took place?” he asks. “And what do you feel has improved?”

The fervent supporter of Borelli’s secession pitch says he hopes residents visit his website to not only complete the survey, but educate themselves on what financial obstacles Islanders currently face.

nws secession

Why Secede

Maybe better the devil we know.

“My goal is to make people understand that we pay a lot of taxes,” he says, “and are we really benefitting from them the way we’re set up?”

When asked if actual secession is his overall hope, Pirozzolo says: “Sure — if it’s financially possible, yes.”

Read the article on the Staten Island Advance website at https://www.silive.com/news/2019/11/staten-island-gets-its-own-brexit-website-amid-secession-talks.html

New York City will soon be known as the “four boroughs” if two Staten Island council members have their way.

Republicans Joe Borelli and Steven Matteo said Friday that they plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to create a task force to examine the feasibility of Staten Island seceding from the left-leaning Big Apple.

“If the city wants to continue going in a radical progressive direction, please just leave us behind!” Borelli told The Post. “The city is fighting a war on the cars we need to drive and loathe police officers — many [of whom] live here. Why wouldn’t Staten Island want to secede?”

The councilman also said he believes residents of the so-called “forgotten borough” will get behind the bill because they’re on the short end of the city’s “unfair” property tax system that favors neighborhoods where property values have gone through the roof — such as Park Slope in Brooklyn, where Mayor Bill de Blasio owns two homes.

Matteo said Staten Island “always had a different approach on how to govern” compared to the rest of the city. He said a task force study is needed to “fully understand the costs and consequences — both intended and unintended” — of breaking the island away from the rest of the city.

Staten Island previously tried to secede from the city two decades ago, with borough residents overwhelmingly passing anon-binding secession bill in 1993. However, that movement was killed in Albany when then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) refused to vote on the matter without a “home rule message” from the City Council.

Staten Island would need state and city blessing for Borelli and Matteo’s pipe-dream plan to become reality.

With nearly 480,000 residents, Staten Island is the city’s least populated borough. However, on its own, Staten Island would rank second among the state’s municipalities in population size behind only the Big Apple.

A spokeswoman for Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the office won’t comment until it sees the bill.

However, de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said “there would be no New York City without Staten Island, and the mayor opposes secession.”

STATEN ISLAND — Nearly 30 years after Staten Island leaders fought exhaustively to secede from New York City, South Shore Councilman Joe Borelli (R) plans to revive that fight again.

In a borough that makes up just 6% of New York City’s population with only three City Council representatives on the 51-member legislative body to serve as a check on the mayor, who controls virtually all city services, Borelli says that in reality, Staten Island leaders have little to no power to effectively deliver city services to the borough.

He wants to change that system.

“The city is 8.5 million people, we have a population the size of Austria, we have a budget the size of Ireland, we have more police officers in uniform then there are people in the entire Royal Navy … all of this stuff is governed by one human,” he said. “That is atypical in the United States of America.”

“Borough presidents and City Council members are not responsible for any service delivery,” he continued.

LEGISLATION PLANNED

Borelli plans to introduce two pieces of legislation by next month:

  • One would authorize the creation of a committee to look at what kind of government the Island would get if it were to secede and how much the effort would cost.
  • Another would form a similar commission to study whether it is feasible to form county governments within New York City.

The last time Staten Island tried to secede from New York City began in 1989, in an effort that was led by Republican Sen. John J. Marchi.

That year, the state Legislature passed a measure signed by then Gov. Mario Cuomo authorizing a study and initiating the process for Staten Island to secede from New York City on the last day of its legislative session.

By 1990, Staten Islanders voted overwhelmingly in favor — 83 percent — of a secession study and by 1991, Cuomo swore in a New York State Charter Commission for Staten Island.

Two years later, in 1993, Staten Islanders approved — 65 percent — a non-binding referendum to secede from New York City and the state Senate also approved a secession bill.

EFFORT KILLED IN ALBANY

But those efforts came to a halt when former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver refused to allow a similar measure to be voted on in the Assembly without a “home rule message” from New York City.

The city never held a secession vote and the measure for Staten Island to secede died in committee.

Similar to the decades-old fight, Borelli said seceding would require a home rule approval from the city and the state would need to be on board too because only the state legislature can form or abolish a county.

If the Island were to secede, Borelli said the borough would likely get a government similar to what was outlined in a 1993 Staten Island secession study, which envisioned a county executive, mayor and some form of local council governing the Island.

Under a county government, Borelli thinks the Island could be governed under a city-county structure similar to cities like San Francisco and Chicago.

BORELLI SECURES LOCAL BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR SECESSION

Borelli has secured bipartisan support for his plan.

Minority Leader Steven Matteo (R-Mid Island) has agreed to co-sponsor his bills and State Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore) has agreed to carry similar legislation in the state Legislature, he said.

Democratic Assemblyman Michael Cusick said he is open to Borelli’s legislation and willing to explore the issue of secession.

Borelli pointed out that the late Cuomo authorizing the secession study in 1989 was seen largely as a rebuke on then-Mayor Ed Koch for not doing a good job governing the city.

Though he is unsure if Mayor Bill de Blasio will be around to see his legislation through or if he would be on board with his plan, he thinks there is a possibility Gov. Andrew Cuomo could follow in his father’s footsteps in a jab at his rival de Blasio.

“It’s really is impossible to ignore the fact that this is happening in part because of Bill de Blasio, he said. “There’s someone who is disinterested in governing New York City and even more so when it comes to Staten Island.”

The South Shore councilman has been keeping a “pros and cons” list of how the Island could benefit but also lose out if it were to secede from the city.

But he’s under no illusion that secession will be an easy task.

ISLAND COULD FIX DEER PROBLEM, GAIN NEW SERVICES BUT WOULD HAVE TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO SPLIT DEBT WITH CITY

If the Island were to secede, Borelli thinks the borough could do things like finally fix its deer problem by moving forward with a controlled cull, which is illegal in New York City, rather than spending millions on deer vasectomies.

He also thinks the borough could opt out of “duplicative services” like the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs, which he said residents can issue similar complaints to the state’s Division of Consumer Protection.

Under secession, the Island would no longer be on the hook for paying for the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, he said — which is the largest municipal healthcare system in the country that Staten Island is essentially not a part of as the only borough with no public hospital.

HURDLES TO OVERCOME; HOW TO FINANCE IT

But there would be a number of hurdles that would come with seceding from New York City.

Figuring out how to split capital debt with the city on city-owned Island projects and facilities is one. The borough would also need to build a county jail, figure out how to pay for the Freshkills park transformation and split the liabilities for current city pensioners.

“Changing the letters on the police cars aren’t the problem, it’s how we figure out what percentage of city debt we’ll owe for the long-term and what assets would be ours.”

He said Island services would likely be financed through property taxes, sales, and income taxes the borough would control.

Borelli thinks services like the Island’s express bus, which is operated by the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, would remain in place.

Under secession, the South Shore councilman said the Staten Island Ferry and city buildings and properties could be transferred to the Island, but he contended it would be a “very complicated negotiation.”

He said the Island would have to negotiate how much city debt it would be responsible for but in that process could gain the title to some of the real property assets the city owns in the borough.

When it comes to the Island’s free ferry, which is owned and operated by the city’s Department of Transportation, Borelli said worst case, the Island would either have to subsidize the ferry on its own, charge riders, or strike a deal with the city to continue operating the ferry on its own.

He said one of the biggest fears people had during the 1993 secession effort was that property taxes would go up as a result of seceding from New York City. But he said property taxes went up without the borough seceding and in the end, sees no valid counter-argument for why the Island should not try to secede a second time around.

“I find it difficult for the opposition people who wouldn’t want to secede, I think the burden’s on them to prove why Staten Islanders shouldn’t govern Staten Island and what the city does better than what we can do on our own,” he said.

Mid-Island Councilman Matteo said seceding from New York City will be a “complicated undertaking,” therefore a task force to study the endeavor and to understand the cost and consequences is needed first.

Read the article on the Staten Island Advance website at https://www.silive.com/news/2019/11/forgotten-borough-no-more-borelli-moves-forward-with-plan-to-revive-island-secession-from-new-york-city.html

Get ready for “Staten Island Secession: The Sequel.”

State Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) next month will introduce legislation to separate the Island from the other four boroughs and make it into the second-largest city in New York State.

“It’s something I really believe in,” said Lanza, who is putting the finishing touches on the 2,115-page bill, which he said would likely be the most voluminous piece of legislation submitted next year aside from the state budget. “I always thought [secession] was a good idea.”Lanza’s effort comes 14 years after Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver killed the borough’s first secession movement in 1994 by refusing to allow his members to vote on the question. In November 1993, 65 percent of Island voters had supported a split.

From the tortuous effort to close the Fresh Kills landfill years ago right up until today’s attempts to get a fair share of Health and Hospitals Corp. funding, Lanza said that “being part of New York City works against Staten Island on all the issues we care about.”

“Staten Island’s voice is diminished in this big, bureaucratic system that we pay a lot of the bill for,” he said. “No one can deny that we have been short-changed for decades.”

Lanza said that a financial study included in his legislation shows that the Island could raise enough of its own tax revenue from homes, businesses and payrolls in order to be self-sufficient.

He said that revenue generated by the New York Container Terminal at Howland Hook and the solid-waste transfer station at Fresh Kills would also boost the Island’s bottom line.

Lanza said that other “unexploited” economic-development opportunities could be pursued if the Island were no longer part of New York City.

“Being the second-largest city in the state would give us a lot of clout,” Lanza said. “We’d have the second-biggest seat at the table.”

With an estimated population of 481,613, the Island would also rank among the top 35 cities in the U.S.

Secesson fever had cooled since 1994 with Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg paying closer attention to the Island, a key part of their political bases and the borough that provided both men with their mayoral margins of victory.

Lanza acknowledged that the relationship between the Island and City Hall has been “better than it’s ever, ever been,” but added, “It hasn’t changed to the extent that the Island has an adequate voice at the table.”

Said Lanza, “It shouldn’t be left to chance. We shouldn’t have to hope that the next mayor will care about Staten Island.”

Silver, of course, is still in charge of the Assembly and as he showed during the recent congestion pricing battle, is still more than willing to smother legislation by keeping it off the Assembly floor.

In 1994, Silver said that a home-rule message from the City Council was required in order for the Assembly to vote on secession.

Lanza today said that a home-rule message was not required under the State Constitution, and that he would go to court if the same roadblock is thrown up again.

— Reported by Tom Wrobleski

For more on the local political scene, read Tom Wrobleski’s Polit.bureau blog.

Read this article on the Staten Island website at https://www.silive.com/news/2008/12/politician_planning_to_relaunc.html